Girls and Gangs Helps Girls Realize Potential for Greatness

Robyn Burleson, Intern, Women’s Foundation of California

I recently spoke with Dawn Brown, Executive Director and CEO of Girls and Gangs, a Women’s Foundation of California’s grant partner. Girls and Gangs is an inspiring organization based in Southern California that provides support and mentorship to young girls involved in the juvenile justice system.

In thinking about how to describe Dawn, it’s hard to find a word that adequately conveys the enthusiasm and dedication that she brings to her job. “Passionate” is an understatement. This powerhouse exudes an infectious energy for social change. Growing up in a low-income community in Washington DC, Dawn found herself surrounded by a culture of gangs and violence. She credits her mother for introducing her to the world of performance art and education. From the start, Dawn knew that she “was destined for something greater,” and she describes her work to empower young women of color as a “dream opportunity.” Read More »

Help Transform Public Policy

By Robyn Burleson, Intern, Women’s Foundation of California

Each year, the Women’s Foundation of California trains 30 women activists through our Women’s Policy Institute (WPI). The women collaborate in teams, learn how to negotiate the political maze of Sacramento and develop legislation.

You can take action and support two of our WPI teams on current bills:

The Aging Justice Team is working to pass SB 897 (Leno), a bill that will require nursing homes and residential care facilities for the elderly to give notice of any possible foreclosures to residents and their families. Believe it or not, in some foreclosure cases, residents had no idea they were being evicted until sheriffs arrived and forcibly removed them.  This bill would mean that residents and their families are informed of possible foreclosures and given the opportunity to find safe, affordable housing. Read More »

Grant Partner Victory

Eveline Shen, executive director, Asian Communities for Reproductive Justice

Congratulations to Asian Communities for Reproductive Justice and our grant partners whose savvy coalition-building led to the removal of 60 anti-choice billboards targeting African American and Latina women. Grant partners involved included: Planned Parenthood Mar Monte, ACCESS, Black Women For Wellness, California Black Women’s Health Project, California Latinas for Reproductive Justice, Generations Ahead, and California Coalition for Reproductive Freedom.

Program Officer Karla Rodriguez recently wrote about these billboards, her personal response as a Latina mom and the strategic and critical response of our grant partners to these billboards. Read more

In the News:

Community Water Center: Clean Water One Grant at a Time

Laurel Firestone and Susana De Anda

By guest blogger Ruwani Ekanayake

“How do you learn about the problem and the power you have to bring about change?” This is a guiding principle of the Community Water Center (CWC), which is dedicated to education and advocacy around drinking water issues in California’s Central Valley.

Susana De Anda and Laurel Firestone, the co-founders of CWC, met in 2004 at the Center for Race, Poverty, and the Environment (a long-time grant partner of the Women’s Foundation of California). Through their work at CRPE they became aware of the crisis that Central Valley inhabitants face when it comes to obtaining clean, safe drinking water. Read More »

Taking Down Billboards, Building Up Trust

By Karla Rodriguez, Program Officer, Women’s Foundation of California

Every time I hold my baby girl in my arms, now six months old, I am overwhelmed with emotions as a new mother. I am amazed at my heart’s immense capacity to love so unconditionally. I feel deeply connected to all mothers who share this unbreakable bond with their child. I am grateful for my family, friends and health care providers who supported and cared for me throughout my pregnancy and made delivering a healthy baby girl possible. I feel privileged to have employment in today’s economy, which helps us to live comfortably and put a bit of money away for Lucia’s future.

I feel especially fortunate that my husband and I had complete trust and confidence in ourselves and each other to decide the timing of this transformative decision of becoming parents. When we first learned we were going to have a baby, we were ready (or as ready as you can be as new parents) and everyone around us was supportive of this new exciting chapter in our lives

It is with this new motherly love, pride and fierce protection for my child in my heart that I first learned of the  anti-choice bilingual billboards owned by CBS Outdoors. They were put up in early July in Los Angeles and declare that “The most dangerous place for a LATINO is in the womb.” Read More »

Living up to Liberty’s Promise

By Edissa Nicolas, Smart Cookie Program Associate, Women’s Foundation of California

I don’t remember coming to this country; I was only a baby. But I have many stories, mostly from my mother, who reminds with a voice full of reproach and outrage at my father that he wanted to leave us behind in order to experience relative prosperity and ease in a new country. She refused.

In a similar fait accompli, Jose Antonio Vargas’s mother managed to get him to America. Although she stayed behind, she gave her son the access to education and a subsequent career in journalism. In his recent New York Times article, “My Life as an Undocumented Immigrant,” award winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas’s stunning revelations speak to the dilemma of undocumented -children brought to the United States for a better life.

The truth is we don’t know how we arrive. We just know that once we’re here; this is our land. Read More »

News Update: Judy Patrick on California’s Budget

 As of today, Democrats and Governor Jerry Brown have negotiated a deal for California’s budget, which is expected to pass early this week. Over the past few months, as our president and CEO Judy Patrick has watched the budget negotiations, which have not included the voices and perspectives of low-income women and families, she’s been moved to write op-eds and blog posts. Here are the two most recent, which we encourage you to read and share.

Budget must not abandon Californians trying to escape poverty
By Stella Kim and Judy Patrick
San Jose Mercury News,
June 22, 2011
Now that Gov. Jerry Brown has vetoed the Democrats’ budget, things are even more desperate. While we commend him for pushing back against gimmicks, unless we get agreement on how to increase revenues, we will be looking at an all-cuts budget. Californians simply cannot afford that. Read more 

We Are Each Other’s Keepers
By Judy Patrick
Huffington Post
June 27, 2011
Yesterday, I got off the plane and checked my emails. I saw that the recent article that Stella Kim and I wrote, which appeared in the San Jose Mercury News, had garnered a number of comments protesting the premise that California cannot afford an all-cuts budget. Our proposals regarding revenue increases incited a great deal of animosity about the “twin evils” of taxes and government bureaucracy. Read more

We Can All Make a Difference: Momentum Awards 2011

On May 20, 2011, we honored incredible women leaders at the Momentum Awards in Beverly Hills. Each of our honorees—Jacqueline Caster, Senator Carol Liu and the California Healthy Nail Salon Collaborative—inspired us with their stories. New York Times writer Peggy Orenstein, author of Cinderella Ate My Daughter, gave the keynote and actor Aisha Tyler was witty and gracious as our Mistress of Ceremonies.

Watch this video , which includes snippets from our honorees’ speeches.

View photos from Momentum Awards 2011

Learn more on our website

Walmart Decision Raises the Question, How Will Women Achieve a Fair Workplace?

Judy PatrickBy Judy Patrick, CEO and President, Women’s Foundation of California

One of the first news items I heard on Monday was the result of the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Dukes v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. I was disheartened to hear that the Court decided that 1.6 million women did not have enough in common to pursue a nationwide class action demanding equal pay and opportunity for promotions. Later in the day, I spoke with Arcelia Hurtado, executive director of Equal Rights Advocates (ERA)*, a civil rights organization dedicated to advancing equal opportunity for women, to learn a little bit more about the future of the case.

The conversation raised my spirits a bit. ERA, the Impact Fund and three private law firms have guided Dukes v. Wal-Mart from the lower courts to the US Supreme Court. While the decision is a setback, Wal-mart and Sam’s Club female employees who think they have been discriminated against can still take part in a class action suit. ERA will be reviewing potential class members, assessing their claims, and determining the appropriate potential classes to group them into. Here’s a website dedicated to Walmart employees who want to pursue a claim. 

Because there’s more than one way to achieve the ultimate goal – a fair workplace in which women and men are paid equal wages for comparable work – we urge you to support pending legislation, called the Paycheck Fairness Act. This legislation would ensure equal pay for equal work, deter companies from breaking the law, and provide real remedies for those who experience pay discrimination. Please urge your congressional representatives to support the Act. Read More »

Honoring Fathers and the Generosity of Strangers

By Cathy Schreiber, Vice President of Development and Finance, Women’s Foundation of California

Being a parent is a unique and extraordinary experience, one that at its roots is about caring for another. Yet parents are not the only people who feel this impulse or take this conscious action.

This Father’s Day, I honor all of those who care for others and especially the family whose actions made an indelible imprint on the man my father became.

The Gavroye family in Regne, Belgium rescued, hid and nursed my father after his jeep was attacked by a German tank on December 24, 1944. Read More »


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